Results vs. Process

“In hindsight, it is obvious that my drawings were result oriented. I wanted to render a specific image I had in my head. When I failed to attain it, the frustration would freeze me for days or weeks on end. . . . I had not yet learned that the process of drawing was what brought me real fulfillment.” France Belleville-Van Stone, Sketch! The Non-Artist’s Guide to Inspiration, Technique, and Drawing Daily Life

This quote is from a great book that I’m slooooowly working my way through. I don’t usually read books about art, but I’m glad I picked this one up, because there are some insights in it that are really applicable, not only to drawing, but I think to any kind of art. This quote was certainly applicable for me, since a year or so ago, something strange and unpleasant happened: I largely stopped enjoying writing.

There were lots of reasons, but I think a decent part of it was that I’d stopped seeing the process. All I could see, when I sat down, were problems. Plot holes, narrative missteps, superficial characterization. The inevitable rewrites up ahead. An endless trudge through what used to be a fresh landscape.

I’d lost the joy of wandering into a new world, meeting new people, discovering things with my characters, waiting to see what would happen next. Writing was turning into a chore. And the more that happened, the harder it got for me to open up that Word document and get to work.

I’d love to say it’s all better now, but as with so many things, I’m still figuring it out. Writing can be difficult; though you may not think so, starting out, it can be surprisingly easy to lose sight of the things you love. In a way, this quote prompts me to get back to my writing roots–to stop putting so much pressure on myself, stop treating the blank page as a horrible burden, and instead welcome it as an adventure, an opportunity to be surprised.

So as NaNoWriMo heads into its second week: here’s to writing, and its whimsical ways. And for those of you who are participating: I hope you’re making progress toward those 50,000 words. But maybe even more than that, I hope you’re enjoying the whole beautiful, annoying, rewarding, and perhaps-mildly-but-not-dangerously-sleep-deprived process of getting there.

Advertisements

Inktober and Energy

And who also looked kind of like a bumblebee.

And who also looked kind of like a bumblebee.

So this weekend I finally found out about Inktober. I feel like I’ve been seeing hashtags about it for a while, but it sort of slipped past me, like visual background noise. My first response, on realizing what it was: “How did I not know about this before?”

I did a whole post last year (the month before Inktober–seriously, how did I miss this?) about how uneasy I was with ink, and how I should probably be more comfortable with it. But somehow Inktober still didn’t register.

And now that I do know about it, I’m not sure I’m going to jump on board. At least not full throttle. Partly because it’s so late in the game, and partly because as much as I’d like to participate, I just don’t know that I have the energy.

That sounds a lot sadder than it is. Actually, the fact that I want to participate is (I think) a good sign. I mentioned before that I’d been pretty depressed recently. It was actually one of the worst bouts of depression I’ve ever had. So after that, it feels really good to care about things again.

I’ve burned out before, though–smothered the spark of energy by putting too many tasks on it. So this time, I’m trying to be more careful. Taking it slow, and not overburdening myself. It seems to be working, so far. Not to say there aren’t bad days, because of course there are, but in general, I feel good enough to say that I’m coming out of the fog.

And good enough to do some Inktober doodles. But I’m not going to hold myself to doing one a day, or posting them all here. Trust me. You don’t want to see the ones I choose not to post. Remember my old profile picture?

No? I can't imagine why not. It's incredibly memorable.

No? I can’t imagine why not. It’s incredibly memorable.

I’m posting this one, though, because I (mostly) like it. Sure, it’s simple and unfinished–the light rays are still in pencil–but something about it speaks to me. Maybe it’s the idea of turning wind into energy. Maybe it’s the idea of weathering any storm. Maybe it’s looking like a bumblebee. (Probably not that one.) Maybe I just like drawing lighthouses.

Well, there are worse things than drawing what you like, and having fun doing it. In fact, there’s an energy booster right there.

So to those of you who are doing Inktober: I wish you energy and fun. And really good pens.

Panel Next Monday! (Hopefully.)

Close Up Panel 2See? I’m working on it! But I got kind of distracted by yesterday’s eclipse.

Obviously this panel is going to be about books? Reading? Crying? (Eep… well, maybe not that surprising. Books. Love them, love to cry over them.) Hopefully I’ll finish it, so you can see next week. Provided I actually, you know, stick with it instead of changing it out for something else.

In any event, next Monday! And maybe sometime during this week. We’ll see.

I’m back!

Reading Slump

This is what being (really) depressed is like for me, it turns out. Not wanting to read. I needed to take some time away from the online world, so I did. I hope I’m coming out of it now. I’m mostly enjoying reading again, anyway, so that’s good. Going to try for regular posts on Mondays at least, maybe once more during the week if I’m feeling up to it/enthusiastic about something.

In the meantime: I’m rereading the Harry Potter series. And I say “rereading” generously, because… just because. On an unrelated note, how’s the fifth book? Would you describe it as dark, adventurous, sad, or some other adjective? Just as a completely random question, because I totally know exactly what happens in that book. Totally.

Ink and art and schedules

Ink 5I love watercolors, but with a severe drought in California, I feel a little guilty about using them. Not that I think there should be a statewide ban on watercolors. I’m pretty sure any artistic medium you could name has its environmental costs, and there are much worse uses for a few cups of water than building your painting skills, unwinding (I’ve found watercolors to be soothing), or producing something that helps either your soul or someone else’s. Since I seem to use watercolors mostly for simple background washes, though, the drought got me wondering about alternatives.

The first one to spring to mind was ink. That was about when this hand-lettering happened. (I’m trying to get better at hand-lettering. Go easy on me.) The statement is nowhere near as decisive as it sounds; if not for the rhyme, I could tack a “one would think” on there. Despite the fact that ink is easily the medium I use the most, my go-to for writing and doodling, drawing in pen makes me nervous. It’s no more permanent than watercolors, I guess, but watercolors have a certain softness to them that maybe I find less threatening? Or maybe it’s that my high school art classes touched on watercolors, but I don’t remember getting lessons on pen and marker techniques.

Whatever the reason, I hope to learn more now. I’ve already splurged on some Copics, to see if they can stand in for my watercolor backgrounds. I don’t know if ink can truly replace watercolors; in my limited experience, I love ink and watercolors for pretty much opposite reasons. But hopefully this will teach me a little more about both, so that in the future, when I select either one, it won’t be out of (quite as much) ignorance, but because the chosen medium is right for the job at hand. Then I’ll really be using them, not wasting either.

For now, though, it’s ink, so I’m nervous.

While I delay experimenting with my Copics, a bit of housekeeping: I’ve been considering a blogging  schedule. I don’t know that I can stick to anything as simple as Monday/Wednesday/Friday, but I do like the idea of connecting certain topics to certain days. So here’s what I’m thinking:

  • Monday/Tuesday: Something with panels, like my post on skimming ahead.
  • Wednesday/Thursday: Food, or other things I buy way too much of–art supplies, notebooks, etc.
  • Friday/Saturday/Sunday: Sketch/something about art, or possibly about writing. (I refuse to commit to that, though. Take that, reverse-psychology part of my brain.) Maybe social media/blogging admin posts, like this one, as relevant.

So at most, I might post three times a week. My goal is still twice, though. For example, panel post on Monday, food post on Wednesday; or notebook post on Wednesday, art project on Saturday. Ideally, the flexibility will keep things fun and stress-free for me, while the schedule will give a slightly clearer idea of what to expect when, which I hope will be helpful for you lovely people who are kind enough to give me some of your time. (Thank you for that! I would reward you with cookies, but those are a bad thing on the Internet, right? No, honestly, I’m a millennial…)

The schedule isn’t set in stone (or ink), but it should work as a guideline. Sort of like a pencil sketch.

Oh my gosh, those Copics. I really hope I like them.

Does it matter what I look like?

My first instinct is to say “no.” After all, the words are what really matter, right? So when I set up my Twitter account, this was the image I decided to go with.

Face005

For all you know, I really look like this.

Profile picture solved. And this simple image represents a part of myself that I identify pretty strongly with; in my doodle-comics, the Face is my more creative, unfiltered side. It’s the side that says, “Twitter would be fun! And Tumblr! I have ideas for posts!” and then gets bored or scared five minutes into the project, leaving a handful of half-started ramblings for my more practical side to edit. In a sense, this is me–the writing/reading me, as I appear in the pages of my journals.

Then I found myself noticing other people’s Twitter profile pictures. A good profile picture won’t make me follow someone, and I don’t necessarily care if they have a head shot as their profile pic. But if they do have a picture of themselves, it feeds into my assessment of them. Do they look like nice people? People I would hang out with?

That made me think about profile pictures from the other side of the fence. Maybe what we look like shouldn’t matter, but we often have precious little to go by in this online world. And there’s something reassuring about a smiling face.

That wasn’t enough to make me post a photo of myself on Twitter, though, because frankly, I don’t want to see a photo of myself every time I log onto Twitter. But the challenge of drawing a new version of myself for my doodle-comics? That got my attention.

My first effort wasn’t exactly what I was looking for.

Sketch Me is evidently annoyed with Real Me.

Sketch Me is evidently annoyed with Real Me.

Aside from how displeased Sketch Me looks, I realized I was dealing with an outdated, inaccurate image of myself, somewhere between high school and never. I looked up different drawing styles, tried out some anime-type eyes, and then finally turned to a photo of myself. It was at this point that I realized that I didn’t even have my hair curving (curling is too generous a word) in the right direction.

Not even the most "realistic" one.

Not even the most “realistic” one.

I did some more sketching, trying to work with basic shapes–things I could draw relatively quickly, for doodling purposes. I continued to be dissatisfied with the eyes.

As Sketch Me gets increasingly tired.

As Sketch Me gets increasingly tired.

And then, finally, I caved and decided to try to draw my glasses. I wear glasses most of the time, but I never draw them on myself because I always figured they would be a pain. Now I looked at where my glasses sat on my face, and gave it a shot.

Table

That’s right. I use a Mac. But almost never a table.

And suddenly I had something I liked.

Suddenly the image on the paper matched my internal image of myself pretty well.

I copied it onto another page and added some color. Nothing too fancy; it will probably only be profile-picture sized, after all.

Finished

Since this post is sort of about what I look like: the part in my hair is actually on the other side, so this is more like Mirror Me than Real Me. The part’s also probably not that off-center. But I’m not changing it now.

Back to my original question: does what I look like matter? Maybe it shouldn’t, especially in a realm where the primary form of interaction is through words. But it obviously matters more to me than I thought, as evidenced by how finicky I got about my doodle self.

If anyone wants to weigh in: is this profile picture better than the one I started with? Do people’s profile pictures (or author photos) matter to you? And if so, why?

Bonus points if you can tell me what this picture reminds you of. The style makes me think of something, but I can’t figure out what. The Lizzie Bennet Diaries? Not quite… argh, I don’t know. (ETA: Anime/manga style seems to be part of it, but I’m not sure it’s the only influence, since the eyes are simpler than most of the anime-style eyes I’ve seen.)